New York, NY, April 7, 2020 – Lupus Therapeutics, the clinical trial affiliate of the Lupus Research Alliance (LRA), announced today that it is embarking on a clinical study to assess the potential benefit of hydroxychloroquine and/or other lupus therapies in preventing or reducing the symptoms of COVID-19 in people with lupus.
The study will be designed and conducted in collaboration with Lupus Therapeutics’ Lupus Clinical Investigators Network (LuCIN) comprised of 57 of the most prestigious academic medical centers in the United States and Canada. Approximately 20,000 lupus patients are part of the network.
This study is intended to follow up on anecdotal data from several academic centers within LuCIN. From Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles, rheumatologist Dr. Daniel J. Wallace, who is also a Lupus Research Alliance Board of Directors member, reports only one patient with lupus out of 1,000+ admissions and screenings for COVID-19 to date. And, of the 800 patients Dr. Wallace regularly treats with lupus, none have developed COVID-19.
The LRA will keep the lupus community posted about the progress of this highly relevant study for the population we serve.
“This initiative is being done in response to reports that hydroxychloroquine and perhaps other immuno-suppressive agents taken by lupus patients may offer some benefit against COVID-19,” said Albert Roy, Executive Director, Lupus Therapeutics.
“We are in early stages and it is unclear what our results will find — whether these drug therapies alone, self-quarantining or a combination of both – are having the most impact,” Roy added.
Hydroxychloroquine, the most commonly prescribed drug to treat lupus, has become the subject of vigorous medical debate and media attention as a potential treatment for COVID-19 in recent weeks.
Despite the uncertainty of the drug’s effectiveness for this disease, with the paucity of options to combat the novel coronavirus, many hospital physicians are now administering hydroxychloroquine to COVID-19 patients. While many pharmaceutical companies have ramped up manufacture of the drug and donated millions of doses to the Federal stockpile, drug shortages have ensued.
Many clinical trials are underway examining the efficacy of hydroxychloroquine in COVID-19. If outcomes of these studies prove positive, demand for the drug is likely to skyrocket, further exacerbating the shortage and escalating concern among people who rely on the drug to treat their lupus.
The Lupus Research Alliance, the largest, global, non-governmental research organization dedicated to lupus research seeks to better understand how people with lupus on hydroxychloroquine and other immuno-suppressive agents are faring during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lupus is a chronic, complex autoimmune disease that affects millions of people worldwide. More than 90 percent of people with lupus are women; lupus most often strikes during the childbearing years of 15-45. African Americans, Latinx, Asians and Native Americans are two to three times at greater risk than Caucasians. In lupus, the immune system, which is designed to protect against infection, creates antibodies that can attack any part of the body including the kidneys, brain, heart, lungs, blood, skin, and joints.
About the Lupus Research Alliance
The Lupus Research Alliance aims to transform treatment while advancing toward a cure by funding the most innovative lupus research in the world. The organization’s stringent peer review grant process fosters diverse scientific talent who are driving discovery toward better diagnostics, improved treatments and ultimately a cure for lupus. Because the Lupus Research Alliance’s Board of Directors fund all administrative and fundraising costs, 100 percent of all donations goes to support lupus research programs.
About Lupus Therapeutics
Lupus Therapeutics, an affiliate of the Lupus Research Alliance, aims to accelerate drug discovery and diagnostic innovation for all patients living with lupus. Lupus Therapeutics engages with biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry, as well as other investigators, to bring clinical trials to real people living with lupus. The organization aims to place the patient voice at the center of strategic planning with the most creative clinicians and scientists in the world.